Monday Night Football: 49ers Host Steelers in Matchup of 10-3 Teams
Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers (10-3), which have already clinched the NFC West, host Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), tied for first in the AFC North, on Monday Night Football on December 19, at 8:30 p.m. ET. For just the fourth time, two teams with 10 wins and a winning percentage of .750 or better will match up on MNF. The three previous games were played in San Francisco with the 49ers recording a win each time.
The marquee prime-time matchup will feature two of the league’s most successful franchises, which hold a combined 11 Super Bowl championships between them (six, Steelers; five, 49ers). Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who guided the 49ers to four titles during his legendary career, will be featured in the MNF open as he highlights San Francisco’s 2011 resurgence under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Mike Tirico will call the game with analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, and reporter John Sutcliffe, who will provide updates from the sideline at Candlestick Park. Leading into the matchup, ESPN’s Chris Berman will host the 90-minute Monday Night Countdown at 7 p.m. in studio with analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Steve Young will join the conversation from San Francisco with on-site host Stuart Scott, analyst Trent Dilfer – also a former 49ers quarterback – and contributor Rick Reilly.
MNF will also air live on ESPN Deportes.
Monday Night Football Conference Call Transcript and Replay
ESPN hosted a media conference call this afternoon with Monday Night Football play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico, and analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski to preview the final two games of the MNF season: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers (Dec. 19), and Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans (Dec. 26). A full transcript of the call; full audio replay.
Sunday NFL Countdown: Cowboys Jerry Jones Speaks; Icing the Kicker; Tim Tebow Soundtracks; and more
Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson (on the main set) and Suzy Kolber, Bill Parcells and Merril Hoge (on the second set), will preview the NFL’s week 15 games with two live editions of Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 11 a.m. and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m. NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will provide the day’s headlines and league news.
Correspondents reporting from key games include: Bob Holtzman – Cowboys at Buccaneers on Saturday; Sal Paolantonio – Redskins at Giants, Rachel Nichols – Packers at Chiefs, Josina Anderson – Lions at Raiders, and ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss – Patriots at Broncos, on Sunday.
Saturday’s highlights (11 a.m. – 12 p.m.):
The one-hour program will preview the Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
- Jerry Jones Speaks: In a sit-down interview with SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm, Dallas Cowboy owner and GM Jerry Jones discussed a wide array of topics, including his confidence in head coach Jason Garrett to turn the franchise around.
- Icing the Kicker: After timeouts led Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey to miss field goals at the end of back-to-back losses, the issue of “icing the kicker” has been much discussed. On Sunday’s Countdown, several coaches from across the league offer their opinion about the decision to ice or not to ice a kicker.
Sunday’s highlights (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.):
- Tim Tebow Soundtracks: Tim Tebow’s passion for football, his work ethic and unorthodox skillset as a quarterback have led the Denver Broncos to 7-1 since he became the starter. In this week’s “Soundtracks,” Countdown relives some of the best in-game audio by Tebow as he led the Broncos to another fourth quarter come-from-behind victory against the Bears last Sunday at Mile High Stadium.
- DJ Steve Porter Spins Tim Tebow: DJ Steve Porter puts his unique spin and beats to Tim Tebow’s comeback wins.
- It has to be the Hands: Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks oversized hands have become one of quarterback Eli Manning’s favorite targets. Countdown’s Cris Carter goes one-on-one with Nicks.
- Shooting the Gap – Ray Lewis: Leading up to Sunday’s Ravens at Chargers game, Countdown relives a play two seasons ago when, on 4th and two yards to go in the final seconds of the game, Ray Lewis shot the gap and met running back Darren Sproles in the backfield to seal Ravens’ 31-26 victory over the Chargers.
NFL Matchup: Jaworski on TJ Yates, Giants’ Victor Cruz, and Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown Connection
NFL Matchup with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview Sunday’s key NFL games on ESPN at 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.; ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m. The trio brings viewers inside the film room for an Xs and Os analysis of key matchups. Highlights:
- Houston quarterback TJ Yates: To illustrate the fundamentals of successful quarterbacking in the National Football League, Jaworski goes into the film vault to show some of the skillset that will make Houston’s TJ Yates successful in one of the most demanding positions in professional sports.
- Giants’ Victor Cruz: Quarterbacks are not the only offensive players required to read defensive coverage. Good receivers do as well, contends Jaworski, as he shows how Giants receiver Victor Cruz is a great example of a wide-out who is adept at reading a defense and adjusting his routes with timely cuts for big plays.
- Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown: The quarterback-receiver relationship is one that is not always understood. Quarterbacks rely on receivers to hit their route, get open and make the catch. In turn, receivers rely on their quarterbacks to read the defense and make the throw. When both are in sync, Jaworski explains, using a play by the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown as an example, teams are often successful moving the ball down the field.
Guest NFL Analyst Former Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley on Audibles
Todd Haley, who was fired as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week, will join ESPN’s Audibles on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. as a guest analyst. Haley will discuss a variety of NFL topics during the one-hour, social media-driven, roundtable discussion show with Trent Dilfer, Keyshawn Johnson, and Jerry Rice. The show will reunite ESPN’s Johnson with Haley, his former wide receivers coach with the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.
NFL Films Presents Colts Kicking Duo
Highlighting the successful kicker-holder combo of Mike Vanderjagt and Hunter Smith, NFL Films presents Colts Kicking Duo on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 1 a.m. on ESPN2. The program will re-air Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.